Citizen’s Europe: From the EU to the United Europe, a common cause for citizens and governments

A demonstration organised by Pulse of Europe in Frankfurt on 9 April 2017.
A demonstration organised by Pulse of Europe in Frankfurt on 9 April 2017.
19 January 2018 – VoxEurop

A new open and democratic Europe can come out from dynamic citizens and grassroots movements like Pulse of Europe, says one of its members, the author of "The European Spring" François Dupont.

The European Union is a proto-state which can’t, by itself, transform into a robust and democratic European Rule of law, acceptable to all. We can neither move from a continental power adapted to the political rivalry that engulfs all the world’s large federal states, nor continue to haphazardly improve the intergovernmental EU.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the EU has needed to protect its citizens and their economy, and our heads of state have only been capable of engaging in a kind of European Champions’ Cup (LINK) where they continuously rank themselves from first to last, in certain institutional organs of the EU.

In this in fact confederate organisation, within the European Council, the Council of The Union, the European Commission and Eurogroup, Brexit took place. Conclusions must be drawn about a crisis within European institutions, which is no longer latent, but clear as day. Most of the other EU organs, such as the Parliament, the ECB or the European Court of Human Rights, function rather well. But there is a lack of real intelligence or sense of purpose among the political leaders mired in nationalistic divisions and international rivalries.

Pulse of Europe has made a lot of progress in one year, and should be a common cause for all Europeans

Numerous citizens’ associations and NGOs with a pro-European bent have had one fault in common when it comes to effectiveness: never thinking of confederating into a visible and compelling pan-european movement of European citizens, critical of structurally dysfunctional institutions, becoming true motors of permanent improvement in the decision-making structure of the EU.

These movements, almost all now pan-European, have nevertheless accurately described the influence of economic lobbies on European policy and administration, and the incestuous recruitment practices that lead to collusion, but not the democratic solutions to remedy those problems.

Our national citizenship may not be threatened, but European citizenship certainly is, because it is underused by many, and ignored by the majority of our 513 million fellow citizens. Established in 1992, at the same time as the Euro, we still need to learn how to use it properly, as a European civil society responsible for more than just submitting ever more complaints about the ills that threaten our livelihoods, values, and any future for our children.

Our generation of European adults should offer to younger generations an accessible European Rule of law, legitimate and effective at protecting us from internal rivalries and the global competition for political leadership.

Pulse of Europe’s charter is built on a broad, mobilising foundation: it presents a vision of a united, and thus eminently persuasive, pan-European citizenry. A responsible and accountable authority still needs to be established in Brussels, in line with the Rule of law that all our nation-states have established. Without this, even at the local level, the principles of law and social, democratic pacts are undermined from above.

While neoliberalism might not want a regulatory European State, capable of proactive and effective policies, the vast majority of European citizens have great need for it in periods of recession. But with no European nation demanding it, the intergovernmental EU cannot, and does not want to, transform into a State respecting its duties towards its citizens.

Pulse of Europe does not aim to say in what direction the EU should be piloted, be it to the right or the left. But there is agreement that abolishing the EU would further deepen the precarity that currently besets us. Faced with China or the USA, the EU, in any case, is in need reconstruction.

It takes just an hour or so, any free weekend, for European citizens who shares Pulse of Europe’s vision to contribute. Already active in 120 European cities, in 18 countries, soon no journalist or politician will be able to say that a pan-European citizen-nation does not exist.

With our local citizenship, we can intervene on many important political levels, but it is not without our European citizenship, together with and in virtue of the charter of fundamental rights, that we can oversee the democratic functioning of an EU 2.0, provided with a decision-making High Authority, or better, a genuine European Rule of law.

This European State will have no interest in exacerbating the imbalances between our countries, or letting Peking take control of our ports and airports, our key industries or agriculture. Nor will it have any interest in blocking generous policies for European municipalities and regions, typically within the framework of European Services of General Interest, through a securitised financing of public investments.

It is clear in comparing the budgetary motors of China, the USA and the EU – 40% (an estimation, given the opacity of Chinese public accounts), 23% and 1% of GDP respectively – that the intergovernmental EU has been shooting itself in the foot for a long time. When constrained to act like some kind of European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the EU inhibits Europeans and their economy. China’s silk road (900 million dollars of strategic investment) would not be feasible without the support of their central bank.

If the successor to the EU, let’s call it the UE (United Europe), endows itself with an average budget of 30% of European GDP, we could make thirty times more useful and necessary projects for the benefit of all. Our defence projects, transportation systems, comprehensive recycling programs, zero-carbon energy, for example, have great need of investment, which we can fulfill with the support of the ECB, instead of throwing millions and millions of euros into virtual finance. More than just absurd, it is extremely dangerous for us to inflate speculative bubbles instead of investing in that which is useful to us.

This does not necessarily mean high taxes if bonds and the supervision of the ECB are used intelligently, instead of selling us all out to Peking. At present, Germany has a commercial deficit with China. It’s time that we forget about the EU-EFTA and the cookie-cutter projects of the USA, which deepen all the inequalities at home and destabilise a world which does not want their hegemony.

What does the Commission’s white paper on the future of Europe tell us?

European citizens can obtain this document from any Europe Direct information centre. It presents five scenarios for strengthening an intergovernmental EU, conscious of its duty to evolve in its responsibilities and political integration. Too rare a thing to go without notice, the document deals with its topic in simple, non-technocratic language. The EU prototype is bogged down in its own institutional incapacity; a rather better performing successor is required.

With the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR) in hand (Dignity, Liberty, Equality, Solidarity, Citizenship, Justice), every citizen can decide how they want things like the single market, the monetary and economic Union, the Schengen area, foreign policy, defence and the EU budget, to develop. Pulse of Europe wants these organisations to develop along the lines of the CFR.

In 2017, the majority of European member states took the first steps toward a European Defence Union, to be operational in 2025. We can no longer continue to follow the caprices of Washington in NATO. In 2025, Europe will not only have a common currency, but a common army: two sovereign powers. We need a sovereign actor capable of genuinely helpful foreign policies with respect to our neighbours to the East and in Africa.

The white paper begins with the [Manifesto of Ventotene](https://www.cvce.eu/en/obj/the_manifesto_of_ventotene_1941-en-316aa96c-e7ff-4b9e-b43a-958e96afbecc.html, written in fascist jails so that the United States of Europe might see the light of day. It closes by proposing five possible scenarios. But a sixth is missing, whereby we skip the two-step process of creating the UE after creating EU 2.0, and recognise that we need the UE by 2025, not 2050. Stated differently, we should add economic and democratic protection for all to the common defence program, rather than defer such developments endlessly.

Under what conditions could the EU move towards the scenario of a United Europe in 2025?

Firstly, the fratricidal battle between Paris and Berlin that has lasted a decade needs to end, having deprived the European Council of any constructive energy. For European citizens, what counts is that two authentic Europeans, Macron and Schulz, have come to define what the French electorate clearly stated in 2017: that it was possible to overcome nationalistic division and elect the only genuinely pro-European candidate presented to them. Yes, proving all the polls wrong, French national citizens are happy to be European national citizens too. And yes, the “southern seven” (Cyprus, Greece, France, Malta, Italy, Spain and Portugal), at a summit in Rome on January 10th, 2018, spoke of founding a democratic Europe.

A pro-European government in Berlin in 2018 gives us hope for strong proposals which the European Council can bring to the European Parliament. To rebuild political Europe, rather than simply filling the intergovernmental cracks, fiscal and social, by way of “cooperation”, a term which has come to be seen as a kind of “pied piper for the credulous” throughout Europe.

If our European electoral campaigns in 2019 focus on the real stakes in rebuilding Europe, it will be the most reform-minded candidates who will win, not the wreckers or the timid.

A European Parliament whose majority is ready to found a United Europe, supported by a European Council having recovered its old political courage, should prove a powerful combination. The project of forging a constituent assembly within the 2019 EP, not a simple convention, in a few months, by means of an ad hoc treaty, becomes a realistic option without the British. This should exclude all tendencies towards political leadership, and limit itself to defining new institutions, without leaving their future orientations to the whims of the victors in successive European elections.

Useful and necessary pan-European projects guided by a genuine strategy exist, but have never been initiated in a decision-making intergovernmental manner. With the UE, this becomes a real possibility. Making a banking union which respects the entirety of the Liikanen report reconciles the Scandinavian countries who know all too well why the supervision of the ECB is a necessity for Europe when it comes to bankers, insurers, pension funds and stock markets. American-style ‘financialisation’ of the European economy will be shelved, and we will rediscover the macroeconomic bases which work in direct connection with economy realities, productive investments and employment. That finally a unique law for business in Europe can emerge is enough to raise a smile with both owners and customers of small businesses throughout Europe, as well as those who wonder about the methods of negotiation and application of treaties such as CETA or TAFTA. The EU has good ideas but doesn’t know how to realise them – something the UE won’t hesitate to accomplish.

The European population wants a considerable simplification of the incomprehensible EU. With a Senate of Regions appears alongside the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council of The Union and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions – which currently has only a consultative role – will no longer need to exist. The European Commission is replaced by a genuine European Government, permanently accountable to all elected representatives of the people and regions. Its remit could then be developed towards a global diplomatic power that no other state in the world would in good sense underestimate.

This would spell the end, then, of the troubles between Corsicans and Parisians, Catalans and Madrileños, Ossies and Wessies, because if the new European legislature takes into account regional realities across Europe, European laws won’t be concerned with technocratic regulations. It is self-evident that European senators would not seek to budgetarily asphyxiate their respective regions. The Dexia debacle should be a warning that neither States nor the EU’s TSCG are necessarily capable of protecting the vital public patrimony of even the more affluent European societies.

Our national parliaments could then rediscover an efficacity that they had gradually lost, as could our local authorities. The two are at present all too preoccupied with both local legislature and global European issues, which concern separate levels of the public interest. A situation in which every level of each authority could do its own job, and do it well, would obviously be preferable. This would also apply to the levels of authority who would like to see an organisation like the [European Council of Municipalities and Regions](http://www.ccre.org/ respond to real, well-founded needs.

Conclusion

Pulse of Europe is the vector through which pan-European movements and NGOs can work without fear of interference from local political forces. And there is no pan-European party to potentially co-opt it. The immense majority of European citizens wants to say “I want another Europe than the one which currently exists, more effective, legitimate and easy to understand; in a word, more accountable to the European Citizen”. Saying that to oneself or in the kitchen, or taking turns saying it on the national stage, resolves nothing.

It is in European public spaces that it needs to be said, with everyone saying it at the same time. A united civil society so rich in talent will not remain quiet after the 2019 elections.

The Europe of civic reason should appreciate that Pulse of Europe allows the beating heart of independent citizens of all opinions to be heard. Joining Pulse of Europe is free, and participation takes just an hour or so on weekends, when you have the time. If every European citizen participated every three months in a PoE event from now until May 2019, that would make a 3 billion gestures of engaged citizenship.

The European nation wants a secure future. It wants a Citizen that is a local AND global political actor. In any democracy worthy of the name, power is constantly at the service of the citizen, a counterpart to its authority over him or her. It is not civil European society which should be changed in the image of the currently existing EU, it is European power which should be changed in the image of that which it in fact already is.

Pulse of Europe is doing its share of civic work to save the European Polis. Young Europeans are born with two citizenships, and don’t understand that while their elders may feel like Europeans, they don’t know how to act as European Citizens. It is up to the young to educate their parents and grandparents. Who would deny that a Europeans Spring is close at hand?

Factual or translation error? Tell us.